If you thought you were frustrated with filing
your taxes recently this post will probably not help.
According to Marketplace the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which
loses an estimated $300 billion due to tax evasion every year, is
using data from social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and
Twitter in order to investigate those who don't file taxes or file
We're all just trying to get through this time of year without
losing our shirts and—of course—without getting audited. The IRS is
kicking into high gear, too. Their goals are a bit different than
ours, though. The agency is hoping to catch tax dodgers. It loses
an estimated $300 billion a year to tax evasion, and getting that
money isn’t getting easier. Because of budget cuts, the IRS will
have fewer auditing agents than at any time since the 1980s.
Enter robots. After all, the IRS may not have a whole lot of
money or manpower, but it has a gold mine of data on you. A lot of
it from... well... you.
"It’s hard to believe that anybody who puts anything on Facebook
has any legitimate expectation of privacy," says Edward Zelinsky, a
professor of tax law at the Cordozo School of Law.
Those fancy vacation photos you posted on Instagram? The
Facebook status update about your new car? The tweets about your
wildly successful side business?
All fair game for the IRS.
This sort of social media mining is nothing new to the National
Security Agency (NSA).
In September CNN reported on information leaked by NSA
whistle-blower Edward Snowden, which revealed that the intelligence
agency was collecting social media data on American citizens. From
In addition to phone records and email logs, the National
Security Agency uses Facebook and other social media profiles to
create maps of social connections -- including those of American
The revelation was disclosed by the New York Times on Sunday,
using documents provided to the newspaper by former government
contractor Edward Snowden.
"We assume as Americans that if somebody in the government is
looking at your information, it's because they have a reason,
because you're suspected of a crime," Karen Greenberg, director of
the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, told
But the documents do not specify how many Americans' social
connections have been analyzed, or whether any have been implicated
In February 2012 it was reported that the FBI was seeking the
ability to scan social media sites for information.
Hundreds of intelligence analysts already sift overseas Twitter
and Facebook posts to track events such as the Arab Spring. But in
a formal "request for information’’ from potential contractors, the
FBI recently outlined its desire for a digital tool to scan the
entire universe of social media — more data than humans could ever
The Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence also have solicited the private sector for
ways to automate the process of identifying emerging threats and
upheavals using the billions of posts people around the world share
"Social media has emerged to be the first instance of
communication about a crisis, trumping traditional first responders
that included police, firefighters, EMT, and journalists,’’ the FBI
wrote in its request. "Social media is rivaling 911 services in
crisis response and reporting.’’
Yesterday FBI Director James Comey said that the agency can
monitor the Internet without compromising privacy in order to
tackle computer crime, "The Internet is a dangerous neighborhood.
We need to be there to patrol it."
FBI Director James Comey was in Milwaukee to visit local law
enforcement officers as part of an effort to visit all 56 of the
agency’s field offices. He met with reporters afterward, taking
questions about FBI efforts to target violent crimes, stem the tide
of heroin abuse and combat human trafficking.
He was also asked about cybersecurity issues, including the
Target Corp. data breach and recent revealing of the Heartbleed
glitch, which has caused major security concerns across the
Internet. He was asked how the government balances fighting crime
with respecting Americans’ liberty.
Comey said he rejected the idea that liberty and security can’t
co-exist. He said security improves liberty by getting rid of
people who would do harm, leaving more freedom for citizens who use
the Internet for legitimate reasons.
The Internet is “where children play, it’s where our social
lives are, it’s where our health care is, it’s where our money is.
Everything is there — and so that’s where bad people come to get
those things,” he said. “… The Internet is a dangerous
neighborhood. We need to be there to patrol it. And by being there
in a responsible, lawful, carefully overseen way, we can enhance
both security and liberty.”
If the IRS' monitoring of social media doesn't have you angry
enough, think about the fact that the agency is reportedly
considering taxing free work perks such as gym memberships and
In competitive job markets like Silicon Valley, companies are
doing everything they can to entice the best and brightest --
offering freebies that have become the stuff of legend.
Employee perks like free food at lavish cafeterias, laundry and
even yoga are not unheard of.
But the taxman could soon crack down.
The IRS reportedly is looking at these perks and seeing if these
companies need to start paying up for the free stuff they offer
David Gamage, a tax expert and professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, said it would really boil down to who
benefits from these perks.
"To what extent is this intended as a perk, a form of
compensation, for the benefit of the employee, or to what extent is
this just another way the employer gets the employee to work harder
and longer and do things for the benefit of the employer?" he
If it's the latter, then it's harder for the IRS to tax it.
It's the worst holiday in the universe. Even worse than Arbor
Day. Today is the deadline for Americans to file their income
Reason has a selection of tax-related stories to angry up the
blood today. Skim through our selection here.
But perhaps you'd like to chuckle ruefully instead over the
terrible reality of America's dysfunctional tax systems. Let's
start with Reason TV's videos for tax day. First, can the costs of
caring for dragons be written off as a business expense if you use
them to overthrow kingdoms?
Hey Cersei, remember you can still count Joffrey as a deduction
for your 2013 filing. Maybe that will ease the sting a little bit.
The Starks, though; they should probably file for an extension.
And here we have Remy slathering on the irony in a "Crappy"
parody of Pharell's latest hit. Remember folks, taxes are the price
we pay to live in a "civilized society" that has no earthly idea
where the money is actually going:
In the category of "Isn't it funny how stupid Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is?" here's an old interview with him
explaining how paying taxes is voluntary. Laugh to keep from
Over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management
announced it would stop trying to enforce a court order against
Cliven Bundy over grazing fees the agency says Bundy owes them.
Cattle from the Bundy family ranch in Nevada, which has been in
operation since the 1880s, graze on land claimed by the feds. The
BLM confiscated some cattle, but may now reportedly share the
revenue from selling that cattle with the Bundy family. Bundy
threatened a “range
war” over the issue.
Despite the BLM’s announcement, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
told local TV station KRNV that the showdown wasn’t over. “We
can't have an American people that violate the law and then just
walk away from it,” said Reid. “So it’s not over.” How involved is
Reid with the drama at the Bundy ranch? The Washington
Speculation on Mr. Reid’s role in last week’s
confrontation at the ranch has been rife, given his prominent
position as Nevada’s elder statesman and his ties to BLM director
Mr. Kornze, 35, served for eight years on the Senate leader’s staff
before joining the BLM in 2011. He was the Mr. Reid’s pick to head
the agency, and his final confirmation was April 8 as the roundup
at the Bundy ranch was underway.
In an updated statement Saturday, Mr. Kornze said the cattle gather
was halted “because of our grave concern about the safety of
employees and members of the public.”
Mr. Reid also has been accused of attempting to shut down the ranch
in order to move ahead with two nearby solar energy projects, an
accusation denied Monday by the senator’s press aide.
Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas that
“there is no truth to the conspiracy theories that are being pushed
by right-wing media outlets.”
Orthman’s attack on “right-wing media outlets” and “conspiracy
theories” may be a case of the lady protesting too much.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle often make money hand over
fist because of their connections to the feds and the insider
information they have access to.
argues the land his family uses for cattle grazing actually
belongs to the state of Nevada, whose laws permit them to graze on
it. The feds and their apologists
argue the federal government owns the land, or is holding it in
trust “for all of us.” Protesters who arrived to defend the Bundy
declared victory, and the family hopes recent events may put
pressure on a judge to rule in the state’s favor. Bundy says he’s
inspecting his cattle for possible damage by federal
Earlier this month, former Florida Governor
Jeb Bush (R) said that many people who come to the U.S.
illegally do so as "an act of love." Bush defended his comments
a few days later saying, "You know, I’ve been saying this for
the last three or four years, I said the exact same thing that I've
In an interview that aired yesterday on ABC’s This
Week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that Bush "might have been
more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this, but I don’t want
to say, 'Oh he’s terrible for saying this.'"
Paul went on to say, "If it were me, what I would have said is,
'People who seek the American dream are not bad people. … However,
we can’t invite the whole world.' When you say they are doing an
act of love and you don’t follow it up with 'but we have to control
the border' people think 'well because they're doing this for kind
reasons that the whole world can come to our country.'"
Watch a video of Paul’s comments below (immigration comments
start at 1:57 mark).
Paul on Immigration
Paul mentioned border control in a June 2013 Politico
op-ed while explaining why he would be voting "no" on immigration
reform. From Politico:
I will be voting no on the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration
bill for one simple reason: because the legislation does not secure
the border first.
The American people desperately need immigration reform.
Unfortunately, this legislation does not do the job.
Of paramount concern is what to do with the 12 million people
currently residing in the United States who are in legal limbo. No
one is seriously contemplating they leave, but conservatives
believe that normalizing their status should only follow serious
efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. And I’m sorry to say
that the Gang of Eight’s proposal is just not serious.
In July 2013 Paul said that the Republican Party needs to
"welcome" immigrants. From Politico:
The former Bowling Green ophthalmologist said that he could only
support a reform measure that implements strict border security
before – or at least simultaneous with – giving some legal status
to undocumented immigrants.
"Because I am for immigration reform, because I am for finding a
place in society for people, doesn’t mean I have to vote for a
crummy bill," Paul said. "Really a lot of conservatives who are for
immigration reform, like myself, just want Congress to be in charge
of deciding whether the border is secure."
Paul has frustrated some Republicans during the immigration
debate by consistently arguing in favor of reform at the conceptual
level, but shying away from each of the compromise proposals that
came up in Senate negotiations.
He took a dismissive tone Thursday toward the final deal that
his colleagues in the so-called "Gang of Eight" hammered out, which
involved steep increases in funding for a list of border security
enhancements. "They just kind of went crazy at the end," Paul
Still, Paul’s pro-reform rhetoric is significant at a moment
when many congressional Republicans are unsure whether they even
want to try and pass a comprehensive overhaul.
Earlier this month Paul said that the Republican Party needs "to
get beyond deportation" and that the future of the GOP depends on
Republicans connecting with Hispanics.
From Fox News Latino:
Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul told fellow Republicans on Tuesday
that the future of their party depends on them connecting with
Hispanics in a more empathetic way and on getting in front of
immigration reform—a message that further signals his flirtation
with a 2016 presidential run.
"If we are to change people’s attitudes toward … the Republican
Party, we have to show up and we have to have something to say,"
Paul told a small group of conservatives gathered at the Newseum in
Washington, D.C. "I hope to be part of that dialogue."
This certainly was not the first time that Paul, since being
elected to the Senate in 2010, has attempted to connect with
Hispanics and other minorities.
Updated at the bottom with a response from the National
It’s possibly the biggest security vulnerability ever discovered
on the Internet. It's known as "Heartbleed," a glitch in the very
software used to provide basic encryption at hundreds of thousands
of Internet sites allowed hackers to access the data the encryption
was supposed to protect. The bug was disclosed earlier this week,
and Internet users are encouraged to change all their
Today, Bloomberg reports that the National Security Agency has
known about this glitch for at least two years and used it to
gather intelligence, while keeping knowledge of the bug to
What is Heartbleed?
CNet offers a primer and FAQ on what Heartbleed is and
how it works, though it can get a little technical. The glitch
allows a hacker to use a protocol used to keep communication open
between an Internet connection and a server to collect additional
data that is supposed to be kept secure through this very
encryption process. This means data that users thought was being
kept secure, symbolized by the little padlock symbol on their web
browsers, was not secure at all.
Probably the best illustration of how the glitch works comes
from nerdy online comic xkcd:
Sites have been scrambling to fix the glitch. You can visit a
Heartbleed checker here to see if sites you use
are still affected. (For those of you registered to comment on
Reason, it says we are now safe, but recommends changing
your password if you haven’t done so recently).
The NSA Knew and Said Nothing?
According to Bloomberg today, the NSA has known about the flaw
and said nothing, even though it may have contributed to untold
amounts of consumer fraud. And if other nations’ intelligence
services knew, nations that perhaps want to infiltrate activists
and political opponents, there’s no telling what they might have
The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years
about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive
information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it
to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the
The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national
security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the
role of the government’s top computer experts. …
“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense
comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft
initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber
officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer
security community for this.”
Update: The NSA, in a tweet, responded to the
Bloomberg story that
it was unaware of the Heartbleed flaw until it was made public
longer response from the Office of the Director of National
Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware
of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are
wrong. The Federal government was not aware of the recently
identified vulnerability in OpenSSL until it was made public in a
private sector cybersecurity report. The Federal government relies
on OpenSSL to protect the privacy of users of government websites
and other online services. This Administration takes seriously its
responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure and
reliable Internet. If the Federal government, including the
intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to
last week, it would have been disclosed to the community
responsible for OpenSSL.
For months critics of Obamacare's disastrous
October rollout insisted President Obama show he was serious about
holding his underlings accountable by firing someone for
messing up. He didn't. But now, six month later, Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has
submitted her resignation. She cited Obamacare's roll-out as
the reason, displaying what it means to "move at the speed of
Although Sebelius' departure removes one prominent target for
Obamacare critics, Reason's Peter Suderman notes it's not
or not just, her fault:
Maybe—probably—Sebelius doesn't deserve all or even the
majority of the blame for the administration's health law
screw-ups. But regardless of her impact, as the most visible
official associated with the law aside from President Obama, she
deserved to be shown the door—or at least be given the opportunity
to show herself out.
Suderman notes that Sebelius was merely the face or "front
person" for Obamacare, and while she may have been its "worst
flack," others are to blame for the Obamacare disaster too. Most of
them have escaped accountability. For example one official largely
responsible for the administrative effort related to Obamacare was
able to quietly
leave for a cushy lobbying job in January.
Over at Time magazine, meanwhile, Reason's
Nick Gillespie explains
how Sebelius' incompetence helped fuel mistrust of government and
skepticism about how much power it should wield. Sebelius famously
compared her efforts to launch Obamacare to Apple's product
launches. Despite the federal government spending more than $667
million on the design and implementation of Obamacare Sebelius
claimed she had fewer resources than Apple for the Obamacare
launch. Gillespie concludes:
Sebelius's abrupt resignation, then, is the fitting
capstone of a cabinet tenure that did nothing to inspire feelings
of competency and trust in government in a century that is so far
replete with revelations of bipartisan secret surveillance,
financial mismanagement of the nation, and failed foreign
We deserved better than Kathleen Sebelius. And we should demand
more from our public officials with the same vigor we do when
buying, say, Apple products.
Gillespie also flagged the reaction of Ezra Klein, the columnist
who is now heading Vox.com, an effort at non-ideological "deep
journalism." Here's Klein's explanation of why Sebelius, who said
she was resigning because of the botched Obamacare rollout,
Obamacare has won. And that's why Secretary of Health
and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign…
The evidence has piled
up in recent weeks that the strategy worked.
Obamacare's first year, despite a truly horrific start, was a
success. More than 7 million people look to have signed up for
health insurance through the exchanges. Millions more have signed
up through Medicaid. And millions beyond that have signed up for
insurance through their employers.
Healthcare.gov isn't perfect, but it works. We don't yet know how
many young people signed up in March, but it's clear that there are
enough of them to keep premiums stable in 2015. It's clear that
insurers are going to stick with the program in 2015, and compete
hard to sign up next year's wave of young, healthy
The White House's announcement on who would replace Sebelius,
Suderman noted, was also a veiled criticism of the outgoing health
Even the statement by White House Chief of Staff Denis
McDonough on her replacement, current Office of Management and
Budget Chief Syliva Burwell, sounds more like a knife in the back
than a fond farewell. "The president wants to make sure we have a
proven manager and relentless implementer in the job over there,
which is why he is going to nominate Sylvia," McDonough said on
The clear implication here is that Sebelius was none of those
things. And certainly, judging by last October's botched launch of
the federal health insurance exchange, it's an easy and obvious
judgment to make about her work for the
TheWall Street Journal
calls Burwell "one of the most experiences officials in Obama's
White House" and reports that she's spent the last several months
as budget office chief "trying to slowly repair frayed relations
between the White House and congressional Republicans on tax and
Sure the FBI has pretty much always ruled
its own deadly shootings as
justified, but that doesn't mean it's okay for just any law
enforcement agency to go blasting away. Today, after a nearly
two-year investigation, the Department of Justice has determined
that the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department (APD) has been
using deadly force "in an unconstitutional manner." The New
The review was prompted by complaints about the department,
whose officers have shot 37 people since January 2010, 23 of them
fatally. The most recent killing was of James Boyd, a homeless man
with a long history of violent outbursts and mental instability,
who was shot by heavily armed police officers last month and whose
death led to street protests and cries for reform.
In a written report, the Justice Department said, "Based on our
investigation, we have reasonable cause to believe that A.P.D.
engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force,
including deadly force."
"Our investigation included a comprehensive review of APD's
operations and the city's oversight systems," the report said. "We
have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies —
including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and
ineffective policies — contribute to the use of unreasonable
The Albuquerque Police Department's Horrifying
Reason's Ed Krayewski has been following reports of bad
behavior from the APD for the past year. He wrote about the Justice
report today, noting that the police in the New Mexico city
have shot more people than the New York police have over the past
four years. Some summaries of issues with the department since
Public concern about the behavior of the police
boiled over into outrage and protests in March when officer's
helmet cam captured police shooting to death a homeless man
following a confrontation over the man illegally camping.
A judge ruled in 2013 that a
police shooting of an Iraq War vet in 2010 was
unconstitutional. An officer shot and killed Kenneth Ellis Jr.
while he was holding a gun to his own head and negotiating with a
In 2012, Albuquerque's district attorney announced she was
stop sending police shooting cases to grand juries to determine
whether or not they were justified. Critics called the practice a
sham—no shooting had ever been ruled unjustified due to the
The murder trial of a former police officer in 2013 exposed
nearly Jerry Springer Show levels of dysfunction within
the department. Levi Chavez was
charged with killing his own wife with his service weapon.
Prosecutors argued he did so to keep her from exposing a staged
theft of his pickup truck to collect the insurance money. The
defense claimed it was a suicide. The trial revolved around
discussion of sexual affairs from both sides, including those with
other police officers (again, on both sides). One of Chavez's
several mistresses served as his alibi, claiming they were together
when Chavez's wife died. A jury ultimately found Chavez
Local television station KOB4 has a video timeline of the
Justice Department's investigation
The House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), is
currently considering whether to hold Lois Lerner, the former
director of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division at the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in contempt of Congress. Watch the
UPDATE (1:00pm ET): The committee has voted to
hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. From the
A House Committee has voted to hold a former Internal Revenue
Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer
questions at a pair of hearings.
Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee
voted along party lines after a rare closed-door meeting to
refer Lerner to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal
prosecution. In the
criminal referral letter, Rep. David Camp (R-Mich.) outlines
three ways Lerner may have broken the law:
1) By using her position to "improperly influence agency action
against only conservative organizations."
2) Impeding an official investigation by giving "misleading
statements" when responding to questions from the Treasury
Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
3) Risking exposing and possibly actually exposing confidential
taxpayer information by using her personal email address to conduct
House Republicans have claimed that Lerner urged for Crossroads
GPS, the nonprofit founded by Karl Rove, to be denied tax-exempt
status. Lerner’s attorney
said that the move was "just another attempt by Republicans to
vilify Ms. Lerner for political gain"
In May 2013, the TIGTA released an
audit report claiming the following:
Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate
criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status
to review for indications of significant political campaign
The report highlighted the criteria used by the Determination
Unit, which examines applications for tax-exempt status at the
The Determinations Unit developed and used inappropriate
criteria to identify applications from organizations with the words
Tea Party in their names. These applications (hereafter referred to
as potential political cases) were forwarded to a team of
specialists for review.
The report goes on to say that, by July 2010, Determinations
Unit management "had requested its specialists to be on the lookout
for Tea Party applications." After the report was published, the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform began an
On May 22, Lerner
pleaded the Fifth at a Congressional hearing on the scandal
after reading out a statement in which she claimed that she had
done nothing wrong. Lerner exercised her
Fifth Amendment right again last month at another House
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing.
Issa recently accused ranking member of the committee Rep.
Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) of colluding with the IRS. From National Review Online:
The war between Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and
the committee’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings, rages on.
Issa on Wednesday accused the Maryland Democrat of colluding
with the Internal Revenue Service in its targeting of the
conservative nonprofit group True the Vote, whose founder,
Catherine Engelbrecht, said she received multiple letters from
Cummings in 2012 and personal visits from the IRS and the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives. Engelbrecht’s True the Vote is
one of the many conservative groups that claims to have been
improperly targeted by the IRS while it scrutinized the
applications of tea-party groups.
In a letter signed by his five subcommittee chairmen, Issa
raised the possibility that Cummings coordinated with the IRS,
“surreptitiously” contacting the agency to request information
about True the Vote.
Issa and Cummings clashed last month after Lerner pleaded the
At the first part of the hearing last May, Lerner delivered an
opening statement declaring she had done nothing wrong, and then
invoked her Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer any
more questions. Republicans, however, concluded she did and have
recalled her to answer questions about why Lerner gave heightened
scrutiny to conservative groups with the words "tea party" or
"patriot" in their names when reviewing applications for tax-exempt
The move did not sit well with Ranking Member Elijah Cummings,
D-Md., who demanded a chance to speak as Issa brought the hearing
to close after repeated attempts to question Lerner, with no
"Mr. Chairman you cannot run a committee like this. You just
cannot do this. We're better than that as a country," Cummings
said, his voice rising as Issa stood up to leave and the members'
microphones were cut off. "There is absolutely something wrong with
that and that is absolutely un-American!
Earlier today Reason's J.D. Tuccille
wrote about the Office of Special Counsel's recent press
release, which reveals that whole IRS offices are backing President
Obama. Some IRS employees may be disciplined after advising
taxpayers to vote for Obama:
We already know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has
a long history of wielding its awesome clout against political
opponents of sitting presidents, powerful members of Congress,
and the tax collectors themselves, but who are IRS
employees for? Well, President Obama seems to tickle
their fancy. According to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which
enforces the Hatch Act limiting political activity by federal
employees, IRS employees are "alleged to have engaged in partisan
political activity on duty and in the federal workplace."
Under federal law, IRS employees, like most federal workers, are
considered "less restricted employees" who still must mind their
actions lest they be be seen as using the taxpayers' money and
resources to influence who gets to rule over those taxpayers.
According to the list of no-nos, such federal workers "May
not engage in political activity—i.e., activity
directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate
for partisan political office, or partisan political group— while
the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while
wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally
owned or leased vehicle."
Authorities say they've arrested an undientified male sophomore
describe as "shy."
The federal government has been encouraging public schools to be
zones since the early 1990s, when it tied that requirement to
federal funding. In Pennsylvania, it's a
misdemeanor to bring a knife onto school property;
who do so can end up in alternative education.
Last month Knife Rights won a big (for them) victory
when Tennessee repealed a law prohibiting switchblades. Tennessee
followed the lead of Alaska, which legalized them in 2013. Knife
Rights was behind both efforts.
You wouldn't think the country has much need for a group like Knife
Rights. After all, there is no countervailing force trying to ban
knives in America: No Knife Control Inc. or Center for the Study of
Knife Policy and Research. There have been no Million Mom Marches
for knife control, no congressional efforts to ban big
On the other hand, a few years ago nobody would have expected New
York to ban the Big Gulp, either. Now look.
of State John Kerry testified at a hearing of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, which he once chaired, addressing the
most recent unrest in Ukraine, which included the storming of
government buildings by pro-Russian demonstrators.
warned that the "chaos," largely happening in eastern Ukraine,
has been instigated by "Russian special forces and agents" and that
Russia could be trying to manufacture a "pretext for military
intervention," as he said it did in Crimea. Pro-Russian forces
squeezed Ukrainian authorities out of Crimea and a pro-Russian
puppet government pushed through a referendum to join Russia. An
improbable 95 percent of Crimean voters allegedly approved
annexation by Russia.
The U.S. responded to Russia's annexation by
extending sanctions that had been imposed when pro-Russian
forces first began to occupy Crimea. Those sanctions targeted
specific officials tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin and
their companies. The sanctions may have cost Finland a
Miley Cyrus concert.
suggested Russia could face yet more U.S. sanctions over the
unrest in eastern Ukraine, warning that the country's banking,
energy, and mining sectors would be targeted. As Reason's
J.D. Tuccille noted, Russia has paid, and is paying, a steep
price for its actions in Crimea—its economic performance is
deteriorating not because of limited U.S. sanctions but because
market actors, by and large, have taken a dim view of the country
in the wake of its neo-imperialist moves. "Bureaucratic penalties,"
Tuccille wrote, "don't function with the speed of scared investors
getting their money the hell out."
agreed to meet with diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, and the
European Union within the next week and a half.